Archives for April 2014

New Orleans Jazz Fest 2014, Week 1: From Zoso to So-So


Day 1 of Jazz Fest 2014 Was Brutally Hot

Day 1 of Jazz Fest 2014 Was Brutally Hot

Weekend 1 of Jazz Fest 2014 was a rather muted one. There were many big names but few big performances—at least that clicked with my tastes. While volunteering at the Access Station for guests with disabilities I chatted with rap, hip-hop, and bounce fans that were excited about Public Enemy, Big Freedia, and Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, but Robert Plant (the singer of Led Zeppelin, mom!) and Eric Clapton were the only names that enticed my rock, blues, jazz, and alternative sensibilities…though I would have loved to have seen Branford Marsalis headline the Jazz Tent if he weren’t scheduled opposite Plant. Fortunately, the former Zeppelin front man more than lived up to expectations if not delivering an all-time Jazz Fest performance. Clapton, however, was good but nowhere close to the legend his reputation ‘Promises.’


Planting New Roots

Robert Plant

Robert Plant

Three years ago I saw Robert Plant with his Band of Joy at Wanee Fest in Live Oak, Florida. This folkish roots outfit spun charmingly soft and nuanced versions of hard-rocking Led Zeppelin classics, and as Plant purred through a mix of stripped down classics and new discoveries I figured [Read more…]

My Low Carb Lent, Part 1: Quitting Pie Disguised As Piety


Puffy Pirate Face (W/Aimee Who Planted Idea For My Low Carb Lent)

Puffy Pirate Face
(W/Aimee Who Planted Idea For My Low Carb Lent)

I awoke on Ash Wednesday feeling exhausted and uncertain. My Year of Mardi Gras had run its course. What next? Should I stick around for another year and see if things finally took off or chalk it up to life experience and move on to the next adventure?

trash-golden-slumbers-and-carry-that-weight-appleAsh Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent—a period of fasting and reflection—and these questions would dominate my soul-searching from the start, March 5th, through its end on Easter this past Sunday. During this seven weeks of calm after the storm of Mardi Gras I made progress but didn’t come to a decision.

My Year of Mardi Gras has certainly been eventful throughout all the ups and down, changing my perspective and giving me memories to carry through life. Unfortunately, it also helped me accumulate some things I didn’t want to carry any longer. Fortunately, I did manage to make some gains (or losses) in this area.


pink_floyd-a_momentary_lapse_of_reason-frontalAnyone who’s read the introductory pages to this online memoir knows that the idea for this adventure originated in the wake of a bad breakup. In past relationships I’ve stayed too long or missed the warning signs or made missteps, but that particular debacle is the only relationship [Read more…]

Wanee Festival 2014, Day 2: Warren Haynes & Derek Trucks Double Duty


Camping At Wanne Fest

Camping At Wanne Fest

Except for the handful of weekends it hosts large-scale music festivals, the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is primarily a campground nestled along the river immortalized by Tin Pan Alley songwriter Stephen Foster (who never actually saw its shores but rather plucked its name from a map for its poetic cadence). Saturday saw the dawn of another beautiful day on this gorgeous expanse of river-fed pine and Cypress forest, so after heating up some coffee on a camp stove, grabbing eggs and bacon at the on-site restaurant (God bless my low carb Lent), and saying farewell to the friend who had joined me for Friday’s shows, I hopped on my bike and rode down to the river which I’d yet to spy during my three previous Wanees in 2009, 2011, and 2012.

Colorful Wanee Sheets & Banners

Colorful Wanee Sheets & Banners

Suwannee Music Park is a bucolic place to ride, and I have friends who return here annually for the cleverly named I-Did-A-Ride trail race. So with map in hand, I tried to make sense out of the maze of tent-jammed roads that had confounded me the previous afternoon as I wound my way to the banks of the Suwannee. When I arrived after a twenty minute ride, this dark, snaking stream proved as picturesque as Foster imagined (good guess,Yankee!), and the thousands of tents, camping vans, shipping crates and other improvised sleeping arranges along its shores were a feast for the eyes, decorated with handmade signs, Wannee banners, and tie-dye sheets that added a festive communal sense to the event. It seemed a lot of work for two or three nights where you’d largely be away from the tent hearing music, and made me suspect some folks come more for the giant campout and only hit the festival ground for a favorite band or two.

Not me! I could have explored these trails checking out quirky campsites for hours, but The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, the first band I wanted to see, started at 1:00 and there wouldn’t be a break in the action until the Allmans left the stage at midnight, so I rushed back to the tent and loaded up to hang out all day under the hot southern sun listening to a joyful noise.


Chris Robison At Wanee

Chris Robison At Wanee

During the 90s the Robinson brothers of the Black Crowes competed with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis for [Read more…]

Wanee Festival 2014, Day 1: The Allman Brothers Band Hometown(ish) Swan Song


2014-04-12 20.27.03Ten years ago The Allman Brothers Band founded Wanee Fest at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL as an opportunity to showcase their band near their Florida and Georgia homes as well as their multiple side projects. The initial year included a modest supporting cast, but in the decade since Wanee has grown into a huge event with impressive supporting star power; however, the future of the band and perhaps the festival is now in question, so I skipped the opportunity to attend only my third French Quarter Festival just minutes from my new New Orleans home to make the seven hour drive back to my old Florida home to pay tribute to a favorite band and an outfit that changed rock-n-roll, particularly in regards to guitar harmony and extended jamming.


2014-04-11 23.05.27The Allman Brothers Band has certainly suffered staggering losses before. Just as they were reaching national notoriety in the early ‘70s they [Read more…]

French Quarter Festival 2014 In Pictures


2014-04-10 18.52.00In 2013 I posted detailed daily reviews of French Quarter Festival, the second largest New Orleans music festival after Jazz Fest (though Voodoo Fest may beg to differ) and one of the largest free music festivals in the nation. This year, however, I am around for only the first of this four-day event. I am loath to leave when so much wonderful free music is filling up the city’s tourist core, but I was granted a reviewer pass to cover Wanee Fest in Florida, The Allman Brothers‘ annual festival and campout on the Suwanee River. The Allman Brothers are one of my top five all-time favorite bands and they announced in January that they were calling it quits after this year; thus, iI can’t pass up the opportunity to say farewell to an old musical friend.

Fortuitous Timing

Fortuitous Timing

As consolation, I made it out to the river front today to enjoy some wonderful music on a sublime afternoon. The crowd was as quirky and engaging as always, so I thought I’d let the pictures do the talking and give you a glimpse of the wonderful time you’re missing if you’re not in New Orleans this weekend!




2014-04-10 17.45.35

2014-04-10 17.44.48 2014-04-10 18.17.07

2014-04-10 17.53.29

Selfie With the Crowd [Read more…]

Fat Tuesday 2014: The Curtain Falls On My Year of Mardi Gras



Later That Night At Blue Nile….

After a joyous and unforgettable climax to a momentous and often tumultuous journey, My Year of Mardi Gras ended with a whimper. Granted, I still live in New Orleans and this ‘year’ lasted nearly thirteen months as my journey began with my arrival in town on February 7th for Mardi Gras 2013 on the 12th while Fat Tuesday fell a month later this year on March 4th; however, in a narrative sense my self-selected year-ish time clock wound down on a cold, rainy, muted Tuesday.

The Purple, Green & Gold Pirate at the French Market

The Purple, Green & Gold Pirate at the French Market

Carnival Season 2014 had seen some of the most dramatic temperature swings in New Orleans history, and the excellent weather of the preceding weekend had turned chilly on Lundi Gras. Then that night a heavy, frigid rain began to fall. The rain had stopped when I awoke Mardi Gras morning, but the ground was damp and the sky heavy with gray clouds threatening the next deluge.

Lovely Lady Pirate Sidekick

Lovely Lady Pirate Sidekick

I only had one guest left in town by now, and we were planning to walk with the KOE, an online organization that used to parade as [Read more…]

Lundi Gras 2014: Putting The M In Orpheus & Cowboy Mouth Gets A Cavity


2014-03-03 21.11.33

Chilling Out (Literally) At Orpheus

I’m tempted to describe the final weeks of My Year of Mardi Gras as a steep bell curve of excitement, but that wouldn’t be accurate. There were multiple peaks on this wild rollercoaster ride, not a steady ascent. One of my primary missions in moving here was to ‘imbed’ in at least one Mardi Gras krewe and I wound up both walking with an alternative krewe and riding with a traditional krewe, allowing me to compare and contrast. As expected, these were by far the highlights of my year here, although the entire  Mardi Gras 2014 season has been a blast.

The Crew At Krewe du Brew

The Crew At Krewe du Brew

Carnival actually began January 6th, and the prep and planning stretched far beyond that, leading to a slow build of anticipation. Then there were three weekends of parading starting with Krewe du Vieux which I was able to share with my Treme addicted brother. Even though my ride with Morpheus that Friday and walk with Chewbacchus the Saturday before were the culmination of my ambition, I still had guests in town so enjoyed all the aspects of Mardi Gras to it’s fullest. However, by the time we met up with Chip and Eloy for brunch at Krewe du Brew Monday afternoon where I was finishing a blog post before heading to the Cowboy Mouth Lundi Gras show at the Riverwalk, it was clear we were about to descend the final peak.

Not helping matters, the beautiful weather of the weekend had given way to a chilly Lundi Gras (Fat Monday) on the one Monday you actually care about the weather. So after warming up on coffee and pressed croissant sandwiches, we all piled into Eloy’s truck and bundled up in blankets as we looked for parking downtown.


The Man, Danny Cattan! Lundi Gras 2013

The Man, Danny Cattan!
Lundi Gras 2013

Despite the weather, the downtown was packed so we wound up having to wind our way to the top of the Canal Place parking garage on the border of the French Quarter and the CBD. This put us right between [Read more…]